Mastering Home-Based Voice Over: Lesson 2

The Commerce Of Voice Over

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  1. I thank you so much! And how is it that you do learn? Visually? Aurally? With text? I ask because I purposely designed the courses to use all three (and a few more) formats, to make sure there was variety in how the information is delivered.

  2. The good stuff is still coming, for sure – when I started this, I thought it might top out at an hour and a half – but it’s looking more like 5 hours or more. And you’re welcome!

  3. I appreciate the kind words, and will look into the video/audio thing – it doesn’t happen for me (or it hasn’t happened yet) – how are you watching the videos? On what device? And what browser? Is it over WiFi, or some other connectivity? I’d love to get to the bottom of this.

    1. Video 1 locked up for me near the end and now Video 2 locked up at 26:41. I’m on a Win 10 laptop hard wired to a cable modem using Chrome browser which usually gives me no trouble with videos. Rather disappointing.

      1. Sorry to hear that, Tom. I’m not sure what is going on with your playback. And I’m sorry to disappoint – when you say “locked up” – do you mean it froze? Did you try reloading the page, starting the video again and then moving the progress marker to where you previously locked up to resume playback?

  4. SO glad these are giving you food for thought. We tend to go with what we know, and anything outside that ruleset tends to be dismissed. I’m glad you’re looking at other options!

  5. After you’ve watched the video, please ask questions!

    How does it make you feel to “toot your own horn?” Are you able to network in real life? Any questions about invoicing or billing?

    How have you tackled lowering your noise floor? Where in your home do you record?

    What else makes you really frustrated when it comes to being a VO talent?

    I’ll read them all, and respond to as many as I can.

  6. 1. “Gimme a little ‘Hollywood’ on that product” – will you please explain that, in case we’re EVER back in a situation of receiving this kind of direction, David?
    2. Podcasting – I have a nonunion friend who has an idea for a podcast, where she’d be the “expert” and I would be the layman, asking the explanation questions. Our “problem” with getting this off the ground is my union status. They want her to complete a signatory for the production, which isn’t a big deal, but for the wc insurance. How do we get around that, especially if she’s recording in her home, and I’m in mine, connected via sourceConnect (or some other means)?
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Emelle, “Gimme a little Hollywood” on the product means, that you voice the product name in a way that makes it pop out from the rest of the copy. Techniques to do this are little VO tricks you learn along the way. A few examples are, a slight pause before or after the brand name, leaning into the mic a little to make the brand name a bit more intimate, actually smiling as you say the brand name to change your tone. One might also change pitch a little, slow down a little, add a bit of excitement to how those words are spoken, all so the brand is the thing that the listener remembers.

    1. Examples are:
      Always follow the casting director’s exactly, when the are given, such as:
      1. how many takes to include
      2. whether to slate or not
      3. deadline for submission
      4. very important and too often missed: label the mp3 file you submit, exactly, precisely as instructed. e.g. M_Braccia_Abrams_Mom.mp3 or Mom MarlonBraccia.mp3

  7. I took a similar class of yours roughly a year ago and tried my hand at creating audiobooks. I did 4 separate projects, didn’t make any money and then seemed to hit a wall. I auditioned for over 100 titles and got no interest. So, I decided to change my interest over the last 9 months to being an audiobook editor. (since this worked better with my day job) Now I am back in school for my graduate degree and am wanting to get back into recording. I want to share my voice and love for story-telling but I’m not sure how to get started. I never had any success outside of audiobooks other than a few projects on Bunny Studio. Would love some suggestions from someone who is so willing to share such great information.

    Thank you for all you do!

  8. For the various demos, where do you find source material? How long should each one be? How many different clips within each demo? I am a complete newb to VO and am hoping to get started on the right foot. Thanks!

    1. each demo will be very specific to the genre of VO… so for audiobooks, you’d record a sample of a specific genre of audiobook (3rd person rom-com; 1st person nonfiction self-help; 1st person memoir; 3rd person historical drama {etc.})… for a commercial demo, you’ll have SHORT clips of ads (which you can create your own copy from print ads) pieced together… for animation, you’ll transcribe a few characters from shows you love. Basically, when you’re ready to build demos, you’ve figured out who your audience is for those demos and then research what the industry standards are at that time (I’ve seen audiobook demos as long as 6 minutes! but I think the current norm is still under 1 minute per book)…

      So to make my answer less daunting, I’ll refer back to your statement that you’re a “complete newb to VO”… which means you’re nowhere near ready to record demos, so you needn’t concern yourself. Creating a demo is NOT the right foot, if you don’t have experience or practice with at-home recording/editing/submitting in any particular genre. David listed a dozen or so “fruit” in the VO world, and where that fruit “hangs” on the VO tree (first lesson). If you decide on which fruit you’ll aim to pick, and then work in that world exclusively until you’re ready for another branch, your demos will be part of that “picking of the fruit” process. Don’t worry! You’re right where you need to be! 😀

    2. The industry standard for commercial, animation, game, promo, ADR and IVR demos is 60 -90 seconds. Yup. It’s that short and agent’s simply won’t listen to more or consider you a pro, if you submit a 5 min demo. For audiobooks you might be able to get away with a bit longer TRT (total running time), but not much more.
      How many clips you can fit into that, depends on the read. If it’s a slow sensual read, the clip would be longer. If it’s just a line or even just word plucked out of a commerical, that can work, too. The transitions being interesting is more important than how many clips you cram into each demo.
      Remember to put your best work first, so they keep listening.
      There are lots of sources of content: auditions you’ve already done, web search for commercial scripts or if you are like me, you just write some that will show off the way you want to present your brand.

  9. I did an ACX audiobook (and it’s re-release after the author got published) as a royalty share both times and haven’t gotten any money as there are less than 10 downloads each. Should I have gone with a per finished hour deal? Can you explain how to determine which option is best per project? Also, isn’t a publisher’s job to push for sales and get the book out there better? Thanks for your time!

  10. Hi David, I am SO excited and grateful for this class!!! I am an actor and writer. In my first year and a half of VO work, I booked a Nickelodeon commercial, a Rockstar video game (even got to do mocap!), and a toy commercial campaign. A year later, after moving from NYC to LA (keeping my NY agents) I haven’t been getting many auditions and haven’t booked anything. Are VO agents currently seeking any talent? I’m wondering if I should look for other agents. Also, I would love to record demos for audiobook submissions. Do you have suggestions for length of samples or any other tips on getting started in audiobooks? I love the suggestion to record original work and can’t wait to do more of this! Thank you so much!

  11. How do you come up with original content when you’re just starting out, and you need to build your portfolio from scratch. What kind of small projects can you do from a blank slate? I’m not someone who knows what to do with a blank slate, and I would love some suggestions.

    1. oooh, Deborah, that’s a BIGGIE. I’ve participated in so many “branding” exercises, I know exactly what mine is (“Authority Figure with a Nurturing Edge”), but it really has to do with how others, particularly casting see you. How are you most often cast? What are characteristics that your friends would say are YOU? And do those characteristics of the ESSENCE you exude match your physical/vocal characteristics? My brand works for me both on camera and behind a mic, but that’s not necessarily true for everyone. Ask people you know to honestly “critique” your voice. The more people you ask, the more you’ll get commonalities. Your brand evolves from there. Good luck!

    2. One suggestion is to jot down the words of an existing commerical, make a up a fictitious brand name and change the other words a little, and record that. Do several. Edit together = your first demo.
      You can also record several auditions on for your audiobook auditions, edit them down and there ya go. You have your first demo

  12. David, these are great. You are so generous. I’m already a union member from my on-camera work. In terms of my fees, isn’t that already set by the union? I also heard that you can take a non-union job and make it a union job by going through a paymaster. Can you speak to that? I’ve only had a few VO auditions so far, haven’t booked anything, no agent. No surprise there are way more non-union jobs out there than union.

  13. Hi David, I actually put this question after seeing lesson 1 but lesson 2 was already done so I’ll ask again here just in case. I was wondering what the current landscape was for union actors not willing to go Fi-Core. The few actors I know who manage to make a living with VO (and even commercials now) are all Fi-Core and it’s not something I want to do. I was wondering what your take was on this. Thanks!

  14. Thanks for doing this David.It came along at the perfect time, just when I was about to try to do the exact opposite of what you said and try to figure it out myself. Closing all those open tabs now! lol

    Re-posting this question just in case, for the next lesson on equipment!

    Question: If I already have some equipment from acting projects. e.g. I have a Rode Video Mic and the portable home V/O booths like this (, would I be able to proceed effectively using those without having to buy all new stuff?

  15. Another great class, David — thank you! My question is: once you feel that you’re ready to contact publishers, what’s the best way to send them your demo? An mp3 attached in an email (if the file size is not too large)? Google Drive? DropBox? A link to your website, your ACX / Findaway profile, what?


    1. Each agent has a preference, it seems. Some don’t want large attachments in their inbox. Some actually prefer they are emailed. As you first mode of contact, ask in what way they prefer to accept demos.
      If you have a website, put your demos there and email a link
      If you do not have a website yet, post them on for free and send that link.
      Did you know you can also post audio on YouTube. Yup! Add as a visual placeholder your headshot, a graphic or perhaps a slide show.

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this fantastic content! I heard about your course through Michael Kostroff, and I’m learning a lot. I’m very much a novice in this field. Did a couple of audiobooks years ago, and most recently voiced a character in a new narrative video game that was released recently. That job was done in-studio, and I do not have a recording set-up at home. I know you will be getting to the Science of Voice Over in the next two lessons, so I would love it if you could address setting up a small “studio” with very limited space. I don’t have a walk-in closet or an office space, and have seen some collapsable/portable booths online. Would love to hear your suggestions on this. Thanks again!

  17. Umm…did you say if you join your pro program, you PROVIDE equipment? Like a mic and headphones? Please say more! Also, I was sent here by Michael Kostrov 🙂

    1. That’s exactly what I said! So glad we have Mr. Kostroff in common!

  18. Hello David, Quick question about starting your own podcast. After a podcast is produced what vehicle (s) do you use to get it out there? Thanks

  19. David, you are a REAL hero for helping so many in this way. Your insight is invaluable and you are a very effective and memorable teacher! Thank you for the gift of these videos!! I am a musical theatre performer just starting my VO journey and am devouring your insights. I’ve got my equipment, downloaded Audacity, and am plunging into ACX profile-making. VERY excited but finding a hard time selecting a focus… work on samples to upload? Start a podcast? Make mock commercials?

  20. I love to speak and can explain myself clearly especially in subjects that I am quite versed in. I know that when I am recording stories or speeches I hear myself weaving in and out of clear enunciation. I also notice that there is the smacking of my lips while recording. Suggestions?

    1. All that is great, Wayne – and you need to make a concerted effort not to smack your lips (if indeed that’s what it is – not to be confused with other types of mouth noise), as it’s a behavior that is a very specific habit. We do it to make a mental note of our success in getting a sentence out and moving on to the next. Other types of mouth noise are involuntary for the most part, but lip smacks are not.

  21. Thanks for these – I watched every one of these! I appreciate your wealth of knowledge – wish I could sing up for the full course?! I Just can’t -not at this time)

  22. Wow! Thank you! I have been doing voice over for over 5 years now and I did not know about ACX. Also very much liked the idea about giving yourself voice over jobs and the podcast. I recently started a podcast with a few other people and I didn’t consider how that can boost my voice over chops and create value. I also appreciated your thoughts about the last question. I know how hard it is not to get caught up in questioning my work. I think your suggestions on auditioning would be a great support to what I already have going.

  23. Hi David!
    It’s been several years since I first met you at a casting workshop. (I still have the notes!) I am happy that my career coach Jodie referred me to your 5-part free training about Mastering Voice Over at Home in this senior season of my career. My background includes radio talk show and news commentary, local market commercial voice overs, TV station IDs and PSAs, training manual narration.Your presentation feels like I have never been taught any of this before…in a casual, personable, engaging way that makes the info stick! Thank you for being our flashlight on the
    road 🙂